"One of the many privileges of a life preoccupied with mountain beauty is to gaze, spellbound, at scenes of constantly changing wonder, as quickly moving clouds kaleidoscopically transform a grand display."
Milton GoldsteinColor photographs of our nation's national parks - whether in books, calendars or on posters - are ubiquitous, and many of the images are often derivative, reeking of Hallmark cliches and dental office decoration. Fortunately, "Goldstein's Zion: Visions and Reflections," at the Museum of Art at Brigham Young University through Oct. 17, breaks through cliches and gives museum-goers a visual experience not soon forgotten.
Goldstein's camera takes viewers on a photographic junket, exploring the colorful scenery of Zion and Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite. Flowing streams, verdant trees, billowing clouds and craggy mountains are portrayed in every season, time of day and under every weather condition. For Goldstein, the landscapes represent his personal search for God.
When his mother passed away from a stroke in 1962, Goldstein left a successful, 27-year career in law to search for spiritual solace. He found it in the mountains of Yosemite, where, with a Rolleiflex, Goldstein captured the majesty of its mountains. Even today he sees mountain scenery as a special manifestation of God's presence on Earth.
Goldstein coined the term "portrait of the mountain" to describe his studies that focus on many facets of a particular mountain's personality. The term connotes the way in which mountains, like people, have unique individual characteristics. Goldstein believes that to fully understand a mountain's uniqueness, one must be able to see it from multiple viewpoints.
With less than a decade's experience in landscape photography, Goldstein began gaining the attention of curators and critics on both coasts. But misfortune struck again in 1971 with the loss of his daughter, and his wife the following year.
By 1973, Goldstein's photography received national attention. His works covering Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Yellowstone, Glacier, Sequoia and King's Canyon were exhibited in his first one-man show at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, after which the exhibit traveled the United States for four years.
Coinciding with the opening of the Smithsonian exhibition was the release of Goldstein's first book by Doubleday, "The Magnificent West: Yosemite." Also at this time, he met Martha. Within 10 days they were engaged; in 1973 they were married.
Goldstein's second book, "The Magnificent West: Grand Canyon," 1977, continued to impress the public.
In "Goldstein's Zion: Visions and Reflections," the photographer's great love and appreciation for mountains is more than evident. Such works as "Old Faithful, Sunset Sky," "Autumn Foliage" and "El Capitan," are powerhouse pictures pregnant with nature's subtitles. His "Kanab Sunset" and "Convict Lake" are also strong works.
One interesting aspect of the exhibit is the care the museum has taken to put up walls that reflect the supple angularity of a mountainside. This, along with the wall's colors, makes for a perfect viewing experience.